OPINION: Wrensted footballers leave a rich legacy

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
The late Clarrie Wrensted with wife Olly.
Camera IconThe late Clarrie Wrensted with wife Olly. Credit: Peter Sweeney/Geraldton Guardian

People who know me, know that I am a history buff.

So, when it comes to local history, I am all over it, and if it has a connection to sport, I am totally sold.

Well, recently I caught up with my good friend Annette Cooper, to chat about the Wrensted family.

Recently, we saw the passing of Clarrie Wrensted (Famous 4 farewell, Guardian, 24/4), soon after his brother Charlie.

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Clarrie, who died at 87, was the last of the brothers to pass away.

The Wrensted family are, indeed, synonymous with the Railways Football Club, here, in Geraldton, and according to Annette, who was born a Wrensted (her father was Mick Wrensted), her grandfather actually played for Brigades.

“I really don’t know how the boys came to play at Railways,” she said.

Now, there were seven children in the family, which was not unusual up until around the 1960s, however, there was only one girl, who is the only surviving member.

The loss of Clarrie signalled the end of something that was very special.

From what Annette tells me, her Uncle Tooey was, perhaps, the first to make an impression on the football field.

“Uncle Tooey also served in World War II.

He was a gunner in the air force, which, I believe, was a pretty tough gig.”

Even though Tooey was somewhat older than his siblings; Charlie, Clarrie and Mick, they combined to do something quite unusual.

All four took to the field in a grand final for Railways.

Tooey would have been in his early 40s.

When you talk to those that knew them, there tends to be no consensus on which Wrensted brother was the best footballer but all agree that they were all very tough.

Someone told me the other day that Charlie had a lot of skill, while Clarrie was very accountable.

“When you played on Clarrie, you certainly came off the ground knowing you had played a game of football.

“He hit you fair, but, gee, he hit you hard.”

Growing up, I heard about the Wrensteds and their time at Railways but for me, the name conjures up images of someone else.

As a teenager, I had the pleasure of watching a son and nephew show his exploits on the football field.

When I think of Murray Wrensted, I remember a champion.

I saw Murray play for the Blues in his late teens, and, even then, he was a standout.

I later saw him grace the fields of the WAFL for East Fremantle, where he went on to win the competition’s highest honour, the Sandover Medal.

And when he and fellow local Chris Mainwaring made history by being selected in the inaugural West Coast Eagles squad, he made us all so proud.

What a legacy the Wrensteds have left us.

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